I'm reading Stephen Mulhall's The Wounded Animal: J.M. Coetzee and the Difficulty of Reality in Literature and Philosophy which is very fine indeed. It has got me to thinking, again, about who are the other interesting academics writing about literature today (I'm thinking about those academics who manage to retain their rigour, but speak beyond the academy, if only to a quite self-selecting and small audience). As Steve said, when he mentioned Mulhall the other day, it isn't Jonathan Gottschall!

The work of Gabriel Josipovici, Frank Kermode, George Steiner, Terry Eagleton, Paul West, A.D. Nuttall (to mention just a few critics, off the top of my head, who are important to me) will always be challenging and relevant, but I'm thinking about newer kids on the block: Franco Moretti, Nancy Armstrong, Derek Attridge, Sharon Cameron, Asja Szafraniec and the Nietzsche scholar Jill Marsden are all helping to help me think about literature afresh -- who is doing it for you!?

Readers Comments

  1. Timothy Clark, Lars Iyer and William Large!

  2. For sure! Yes, yes indeed.

    (And Tom McCarthy's 'Tintin and the Secret of Literature' would get the nod, as would Simon Critchley's 'Things Merely are: Philosophy in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens'.)

  3. Derek Attridge is hardly a new kid on the block - I was listening to him at Joyce conferences and reading his criticism all through the eighties.

  4. I think "new kid on the block" is a pretty rubbish description of not just Derek, but all those "new kids" that I listed! I think I mean something more like "unsung / not that well known" and also new_ish to me!

  5. On Word Arts Tuesday 26 May 2009

    George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, W.J.T. Mitchell and Anders Pettersson.
    For example.

  6. Don't know those names, On Word Arts, so thanks a lot for them -- any clues as to what they write about or why you find them particularly noteworthy?

  7. Hi Mark,
    (acknowledging the unlikelihood of English availability) I'll read any critical works by César Aira, Ricardo Piglia, Marcelo Cohen or Luis Chitarroni.

  8. I'm reading a fantastic book on post-WWII American literature by Mark McGurl right now; Sianne Ngai's work is always excellent; Steven Burt is doing poetry as well as anyone right now.

  9. Peter Brown and Mark himself should read what the blogs says. It cites Frank Kermode and George Steiner, two writers in their 80s, and then asks for "newer kids on the block". Derek Attridge is newer.

  10. I'm staying excited about literary theory with a few favorite academics: Ian James, Peter Hallward, Stephen Barber, Eyal Peretz,Geoffrey Bennington, and Radolphe Gasche has and continues to publish great work... apologies for the philosophy intruders. Anyone know of people doing cinema and literature crossover work? (i did see wjt mitchell up there)

  11. Philosophy intruders very welcome here Michael.

    Of old school lit-critics of note, I forgot to mention Christoper Ricks and Micheal Wood. Of a name that is undersung: John Taylor ('Into the Heart of European Poetry' and 'Paths to Contemporary French Literature').

  12. Not really a plug, honest, (as Verso do her book on Beckett) but Pascale Casanova's World Republic of Letters is meant to be amazing.
    In a cultural studies vein:
    I also enjoyed Charity Scribner's book on literature (and culture) in the shadow of Stalinist communism 'Requiem for Communism'.
    And Phillip Rieff's work can be bizarre, reactionary and repetitive but he does a good reading of Kafka.
    Now this is a plug, so shoot me, but Fredric Jameson's writing on science fiction and modernist writers is great.

  13. I enjoyed Casanova' Beckett book ( ), so good to see here 'WRoL' plugged. Don't know the Scribner, shall chase it down...

  14. Shameless Cambridge University Press plugging here but I think one should dance with the one that brung 'em.

    Literature: Janet Todd on Austen, Dame Gillian Beer on Darwin's Plots in Victorian literature (new edition) and David Crystal on Shakespeare as a linguist in Think On My Words.

    History: I'm sneaking home the office copy of Cosmopolitan Islanders by Richard J. Evans. I hope it's as satisfying as John Burrow's brand of historiography but without the punctuation style of Genesis Chapter 10.

  15. Better yet, go and hear James Fenton; Craig Raine; Blake Morrison; Clive Wilmer, and Robert Conquest (the sole surviving Movement poet) reading a collection of Movement Poetry at LRB bookshop on Tuesday 2 June 7 pm

    I heard them last night and they were excellent!

  16. William Gass is always a pleasure, Rene Girard too. both highly recommended. and I think that Roberto Calasso's Liiterature and the Gods is indispensable. (you might want to read the other italians: Cesare Pavese and Italo Calvino. his Six Memos is beautiful).

  17. The late great Eve Sedgwick and Naomi Schor

  18. Shoshana Felman, Eyal Peretz who I just saw you can ask about his work on Pandalous:, T.j. Clark, and Giorgio Agamben.

  19. Shoshana Felman, Eyal Peretz who I just saw you can ask about his work on Pandalous:, T.j. Clark, and Giorgio Agamben.

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